In less than one month, residents surrounding North Shell Road on Siesta Key may finally have some peace from the chaotic parking and partying they allege takes place during busy beach days.
The $30,627 renovations will create 17 parking spots along the road, which currently has no delineated parking spots, and will eliminate a pedestrian sidewalk to add six parallel park spots. North Shell Road is located off Higel Avenue on the north end of Siesta Key.
The work, which began Monday, is slated to end July 3, said Sarasota County project manager Gary Spraggins.
“We wanted to be ready for the Fourth of July and the (Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix),” Spraggins said.
Sarasota County commissioners approved the plan by a split vote in April, with several commissioners calling the plans a “compromise” for the public and private residences nearby. County staff had proposed four options for commissioners to consider, ranging from 12 to 17 parking spots, and from $23,267 to $44,111 in cost.
Nearby residents pushed for the move, claiming beachgoers were vandalizing their property, littering, drinking excessively, using illegal drugs, playing loud music and committing other acts of public indecency, and residents expressed concern over the lack of law-enforcement presence to enforce violations. Beachgoers had been able to cram as many as 50 vehicles onto the small side street during season, according to visual evidence and neighborhood accounts.
"The issue is parking, and the salient point here is safety," said Siesta resident Robert Shaw during the meeting.
With support from Commissioner Joe Barbetta, residents pushed for fewer parking spaces than ultimately approved, but generally supported the final plan.
For more information and feedback from residents pick up a June 19 copy of the Pelican Press.